Why Do Women Initiate Divorce More Than Men?


2015 study by the American Sociological Association revealed that women initiate 69 percent of all divorces in the U.S. Further, the same study found that college-educated women initiate divorce at an even higher rate of 90 percent. But why are women initiating divorces at such a high rate compared to men? There may be several reasons.

Women Face Unfair Divisions of Labor

While society has come a long way in doing away with traditional gender roles, the institution of marriage seems to be lagging behind. Women are working more outside the home today than they ever have before, making up just over half the workforce in the U.S. Still, in many marriages, women are strapped with the lion’s share of domestic duties even though they have more on their plates outside the walls of their home. In many homes, wives are still expected to do the majority of the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. Even when both the husband and wife are employed full-time, this remains the same. For example, a 2019 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that on an average day, 20 percent of men did housework, like cleaning or laundry, compared with 49 percent of women.

To make this matter worse, many women report that their husbands aren’t supportive when they have highly successful careers. In fact, a 2019 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed that many men experienced “psychological distress” if their wives earned over 40 percent of the household income. If a woman doesn’t feel supported in her career or at home, she might start to wonder why she’s in the marriage in the first place.

Women Bear More Emotional Burdens

Women are also more likely to carry the emotional burdens in the marriage. Communication is a vital factor in any relationship, especially in marriages. Unfortunately, in general, men aren’t shown how to communicate or process emotions. This leaves married women to assume more of the emotional responsibilities, potentially including being the only emotional support system for the entire family.

As the months and years go by, this can take a severe physical, mental, and emotional toll, leaving wives to feel alone. If they feel alone, it may precipitate a divorce filing.

Women Don’t Rely as Much on Their Husbands

Historically, many women remained in marriages that no longer served them because they relied on their husbands financially. Women stayed even if they were abused, or their husbands were having affairs because they really had no other choice. They may not have had the training or education to make it on their own or the support of local family members. Some may have also been afraid of the social stigma attached to divorce.

Today, wives have many more choices and are much more likely to be free to leave a marriage. Their financial situation won’t leave them stuck in a marriage they no longer want to be in or feel safe in. With approximately half of all marriages ending in divorce, much of the social stigma has also been wiped away from divorce.

Women Are More Likely to Take Action if Something is Wrong

In general, women are more likely to take action when there’s a problem than men are. While this isn’t always true, it can prompt women to do something about a marriage gone wrong sooner than men. Whether it be seeking counseling or therapy or filing for divorce, women often do something about the problem before a man does. Think about a messy kitchen or a growing pile of laundry—women are more likely to take care of these messes before men, and the same applies to their marriages. Men will often wait until the mess causes other problems—such as having no clean clothes to wear or no clean dishes to eat off of before they will do something. Women are more likely to see a problem as it grows and do something to avoid it or take care of it before they experience additional problems.

Do You Have Questions or Concerns about Divorce?

Whether you are a man or a woman, the one who is seeking a divorce or not, it’s common to have questions or concerns about divorce. The best way to get answers to your questions and learn more about your rights and options is to discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney. The sooner you contact one, the more they will be able to help you in this often-difficult process.